NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday issued a warning to restaurants and bars who have been breaking COVID-19 protocols to cease their harmful actions or be shut down.
Minnis specifically pointed to a nightclub in the eastern part of New Providence and two restaurants in the West.
Over the weekend, videos circulated on social media of a popular nightclub near Montague Beach, hosting a large group of people, none of which could be seen wearing a mask or properly social distancing.
“I do not want to call any restaurant or nightclub names, but that particular nightclub in the East know whom we’re speaking about, and we assure that if we see that again what has happened just recently, they will be dealt with properly,” Minnis said, during the afternoon sitting of Parliament.
“And the same message goes out to the two restaurants in the West. I need not call their names, but they know one is east of me and one is west of me, and I live Tropical [Gardens], so one is to my left one is to my right.
“They know who they are and if they continue to behave in that manner they too will be closed because we will not tolerate breaking our laws to leave our citizens in danger, our healthcare system in danger, and possibly collapse our entire healthcare system.
“…We will not allow that to happen. And all individuals who break our law for money, greed, or anything else we will deal with them appropriately.”
The prime minister tabled a new state of emergency proclamation signed by the Governor-General on Monday.
The proclamation came into effect at midnight after the government failed to pass a resolution extending the initial state of emergency proclamation, which expired on Monday night.
The new declaration means the government is allowed to restart the six months extension period provided under Article 29 of the Constitution – with parliamentary approval – and the Competent Authority can issue renewed emergency orders.
Minnis advised that Cabinet has approved a new COVID-19 enforcement unit led by the Royal Bahamas Police Force to ensure compliance with the Emergency Orders.
Both tourists and residents will face fines of $200, one month in prison, or both, if they don’t wear a face mask in public spaces.
Additionally, business establishments that allow customers to enter or remain in an establishment without the mask, will be fined.
The first breach will result in a $500 fine, with the possibility of temporary closure or a greater level of fines if there are more infractions.
Minnis yesterday also warned residents on the Family Islands to continue to follow health protocols and heighten their awareness over boaters as the country reopens its borders to international flights on Wednesday.
“I also want to send a warning message and advisory message for those in the Family Islands – Exuma, Harbour Island, Eleuthera, Long Island and other islands who do very well with boating,” the prime minister said.
“There will be many yachts visiting your shores, and we must be very vigilant and ensure that those visitors wear their masks and we wear our masks, and the authorities will be there to ensure they comply with our laws and present a COVID-19 negative test before they enter our shores.”